The low turnout for Sunday’s parliamentary election in Russia—less than 48 percent of eligible voters participated, the lowest level since 1991—reflected, among other things, growing disillusionment with the economic situation in the country. According to a recent poll, 72 percent of Russians think their country is in an economic crisis. Russia’s GDP and standard of living have declined two years in a row, and the Russian government is burning through its budget reserve fund to plug deficits at a rapid rate. Russian pensioners, truck drivers, and teachers among others are complaining that they are struggling to keep up.

Their growing complaints, combined with the low price of oil, the economic sanctions imposed by the West for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and overall government mismanagement of the economy in failing to diversify and modernize have led the Russian government to order the privatization of some of its prized assets. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to spend billions on his military operations in Ukraine and Syria—money he increasingly does not have.

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